Editor’s note: The youth group from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown has just completed a sweltering week of work in Topsail, N.C., on its annual mission trip. Here are reflections from the Rev. Melissa Hall, associate rector of St. Peter’s.
The Rev. Melissa Hall
The thing about a mission trip is you never quite know what you are going to find once you get there. After months of pancake dinners, rummage sales, endless forms, transportation logistics, and encouraging volunteers that they will have fun, you go into the trip with eyes wide open and anxiety in your heart! Will everything measure up in the long run and will this effort be worthwhile!?
What I found after five days with our youth is one of the finest congregations that I have ever had the joy to lead!
The spirit of God was abundant with this congregation of 18 youths and five volunteers. They toiled in the heat to help two elderly women bring pride back to their homes, they played with people outside of their own circle and forged new friendships with Saint Peter’s Essex Fells, they encouraged one another, tended to the needs of their friends, prayed and sang in worship and cried openly when they felt moved by the spirit.
And in their wake they left two wonderful women, Miss Cary and Miss Patricia, in tears when it was time for us to leave.
Our youth group and volunteers stood with their new friends as the women marveled at the beautiful new deck, and the restored porch where grandma Minnie used to sit, and the rebuilt staircases, and the houses hand-scrubbed, and the debris and brush that was wicked and stretched for a mile that was hacked away by hand.
All this was done in blistering heat and in the presence of voracious mosquitoes! And it was done with love and to the glory of God by a congregation of 18 youths and five volunteers, and one very humbled priest!
I am humbled by the integrity and kindness and love that Saint Peter’s brought to North Carolina. It is the best Gospel story I have ever seen and by God’s grace I will have the honor to see it again next year! Saint Peter’s, your youth and adult volunteers have done you proud, carrying your message of a Gospel that truly knows what it means to love a neighbor!